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International organizations

1. Defining IOs.
International organizations are social constructs created by people
in order to achieve a target. These organizations may have different
goals and be under various systems of law. The most important is
that they are created between states (exactly by authorized
representatives of states). Some IOs can be members of another IOs
or founding members. Not all the bodies created by states are IOs.
Some IOs need special treaties in order to operate. Most of the IOs
are also created on the basis of treaties. Some IOs are created by
legal acts or existing organizations. E.g. UN General Assembly
created by resolution UNIDO and UNICEF. So creation of IO is an
intentional act. Another point that makes IOs different from other
forms of international cooperation is that IOs have at least one
organ that can have different opinion that the opinion of its member
IOs are the most typical forms of interstate cooperation.
IO is a formal, continuous structure established by
agreement between members from two or more sovereign
states with the aim of pursuing the common interest of the
Classification of IOs
By function
IOs can be classified on the basis of their functions (e.g. economy,
peace and security, military alliance, nutrition, public health,
By membership
Some organizations are open for all the states and invite all of them
to join. However, some organizations have limited membership. For
example, regional organization will include countries from that
region only. Another example is OPEC, here the geography is not
important but the connection among state is economic.
Political vs functional
Some functions may be mistaken with political reasons. E.g. IO for
regulation of telecommunications does not include political reasons.
If by politics we mean issues of peace and security than only the UN
is a universal political organization.
Intergovernmental or supranational

The only supranational organization in the EC. Definition of a

supranational organization will be created on the basis of the EC. So
a supranational organization decision are taken by majority vote.
The product of these decision is EC law, which is stronger than
domestic law. Most of EC law has force as legal order in member
states. So EC actually stands above its member-states and because
of that it is supranational.
In contrast, decisions in international organizations take decisions by
unanimity (all states vote the same) or consensus. These rules do
not enter domestic legal orders directly. So the organization in this
way do not rise above its members but stays between the members
and is intergovernmental.
Anthony Judges eight criteria of international organization:
i. The purpose must be totally international and must include at
least 3 states.
Membership must be individual or collective; members must
have full voting right; voting must be independent of any
national group.
Formal structure is provided by a constitution and makes rules
for electing bodies, officers and operations.
Officers cant be of the same nationality for longer than a
specific period.
v. States must make financial contributions (must give money to
the budget of the organization).
Members who are in other organization must show that they
are independent.
All activities must be recorded as evidence.
This organization to be international cannot look at things like
size, politics, ideology, fields of activity, geography, allocation
of headquarters or nomenclature.
Wallace and Singers three criteria:
i. IO must have at least two members and must be created by a
formal agreement between the governments of states.
The organization must meet regularly; the maximum break
between meetings can be 10 years.
The organization must have a fixed headquarter and an office
that works all the time.
Bennetts IOs features:
i. Organization must be permanent
Membership is voluntary
There is an official document that presents goals, structure
and method of operation
IO is a representative consultative organ
v. IO has permanent office and administration

Most of other authors present similar features. However,

there are three features that appear in every definition:
membership, aim and structure.
Minimum 2-3 states, membership is not limited.
There is one target for all the member states and they all work to
achieve it.
The organization must have a formal structure set up on the basis of
a treaty or constituent document.
2. The legal position of IOs. Legal personality under domestic
and international law. International personality of IOs.
IOs are generally subject to international law. But they can have
different rights and obligations under this law. There are three
important factors to see what right and obligations a state has. It
must be checked if the state has: the right to enter into international
agreements, the right to send and receive legations and the right to
bring and receive international claims.
IOs have the right to make treaties.
Legal personality under domestic law
Every domestic legal system is different and can have different
requirements. Because of this constituent treaties of organization
include provisions about the personality of the organization under
the domestic law of its member states.
International legal personality
The position of IOs in member states in regulated by treaties. But it
is different in non-member states. There are two theories here: will
theory (subjective theory) and objective theory of personality.
In will theory the will of founders of the organization decides on
the organizations legal personality. But in practice this theory
without recognition by third parties is invalid. Objective theory
says that when an organization is created it must follow the
international law and it this way it gets the international legal

3. a) Origins of formal international cooperation. The rise of IOs

History of the rise of IOs starts in 1919 at the Versailles Peace
Conference. There the state representatives wanted to create a new
organization that would deal with the problems of peace, security,
economy and society. They established the League of Nations. The
League of Nations introduced many changes in the way of
international cooperation. For example, it set new style for
diplomacy. It worked out many systems not only to deal with politics
but also with social and economic issues. Before that time there
were no interstate organization because there was no stable system
of sovereign states in Europe. But the League of Nations with its
system did not prevent the WWII. The experience of WWII was
important for creation of the United Nations Organization. Most of
UNO institutions were similar to LN. WWII and the post-war time
influenced the character of work of the UN since 1945. The number
of member states increased. Growing number of states allowed
large number of international organization and different purposes of
them. There were and are four major types of global interaction:
communication, transportation, finance and travel.
The rise of modern IOs
With time it became clear that international cooperation is required
and possible. The most obvious area is transport and
communication. Other areas are e.g. health, economics, and
agriculture. More and more organizations were created as the public
international law was changing into law of cooperation. Influence of
Cold War forced the creation of the Pact of Brussels and the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization. Organizations were appearing
everywhere, all over the world.
b) Setting up an international organization: IOs statutes
The constituent documents of international organizations are mostly
treaties. But they are not usual treaties because they set up
international organizations and because of that they have a special
status. The rules about the constituent documents of international
organizations are described in 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law
of Treaties. However, the law of international organizations can
depart from the general law of treaties. There are four cases here:
the facility of making reservations to constituent documents,
revision of constituent documents, termination of such documents
and interpretation of constituent documents.
4. a) IOs roles and functions
There are three major roles
instrument, arena and actor.




Here IO is an instrument used by its members to achieve a target.
This is the case with IGOs (members are sovereign states with
power to limit independent action by international organizations).
For example, the UN in its first years was an instrument of US
diplomacy. But to be an instrument, the IO doesnt have to serve the
interest of each member.
The second role is an arena or a forum where actions take place. In
this case, the organizations provide a meeting place for members to
come together and discuss, argue, cooperate or disagree. Arena is
IO can be an independent actor. It means that it acts independently
and it is not influenced even by the individual interest of its
The three roles that international organizations can perform
instrument, arena, actor are not mutually exclusive. For example,
the UN plays each role in international relations.
Functions of international organizations
Articulation and aggregation
IOs can perform tasks of interest articulation and aggregation in
international affairs. It helps to allocate resources and define values.
Allocation is done by agreement, discussion and negotiations. IOs
bring together members with one target and help them to present it
and achieve it together.
IOs are very important as instrument, forums and actors to the
normative activities of the international political system. They help
to set up norms. For example, in the field of economic affairs, IOs
have helped to establish norms of behavior.
IOs can have an important function in the recruitment
participants in the international political system.


Socialization is performed within the nation-state by a number of
agencies. Its target is to make the feeling of individual loyalty to the

system stronger and crate acceptance of the values of that system

and its institutions. Agents of socialization can be, e.g. churches or
schools. Internationally, the process of socialization takes two levels.
Agents of socializations work across borders and contact individuals
and groups. Multinational corporations help here a lot.
Rule making
The function of rule making in international organizations is more
obvious than that of socialization. The international system has no
central formal rule-making institution such as a government or
parliament. IOs have principles to make rules, e.g.: the rules are
formulated by agreement of all or most of the member states;
members have the option to leave organization and not act with the
rules; international organization has no direct relationship with
private citizens of the member states.
Rule application
In the international political system, rule application is left mainly to
sovereign states. IOs take on aspects of applying generally accepted
Rule adjudication
At the international level, the process of rule adjudication lacks the
extensive institutions. The most important institutions here are for
example the International Court of Justice.
IOs provide information and communicate at the international level.
They produce a lot of important information and statistical data.
International organizations undertake a number of operational
functions. For example, banking, providing aid, dealing with goods
and running technical services.
b) Membership in IOs
Usually the treaties of IOs control who can join the organization,
under what conditions and by which procedure. However, every
organization can have special rules here. For example, membership
in UN is open to all the peace-loving states, which accept conditions
presented in the Charter and are ready to act according to the
Charter requirements. In some cases connection between various
organizations is so close that membership in one is impossible
without membership in the other. E.g. membership in the World
Bank is open only for members of the International Monetary Fund.
Organizations have also different levels of membership. E.g.
associate membership (limited membership for some time leading
to full membership later), partial membership (a state is a full

member of some organs without being a member of the parent

organization) and affiliate membership.
Organizations can also give some states the status of an observer.
The rights of observers are not usually full rights. Observers usually
cannot vote.
When states change, they fall apart or create new countries, they
must basically start to apply to be a member of an organization
from the beginning. Sometimes they are automatically accepted,
but sometimes they have to go through many procedures.
Issue of representation is connected to membership. The treaties do
not deal with this issue but there are rules of procedure of the IO
which say who and how should represent the member state.
Termination of membership (finishing, cancelling) is another
important issue. It takes place occasionally that an organization
decides to remove some members. Some organizations do not use
this because this is some kind of a punishment. Sometimes (like the
UN) they just suspend the rights of a member until the member
corrects his actions. Members have also the rights to withdraw by
5. a) IOs international structure: organs. IOs officers.
b) Decision making in IOs. The legal character of IOs official
IOs must be able to adopt and create legal instruments. The power
of organizations sets the rules as for acts that can be adopted. The
legal nature of instruments and they way they are created is
described by the constituent treaty. Various types of legal
instruments are divided on the basis of their purpose. Some
instruments can make law; lay down rules of general application.
There are for example EC regulations that bind all the memberstates. There are also some instruments of more administrative
nature like decisions in EC law. There are also acts of a
household nature. They covers acts related to budget or election
of officials in the organization. Another category of acts are these
which dont create law but influence the behavior of the
organization: recommendations, declarations, codes of
conduct or generally non-binding resolutions. There are also
other non-classified types of instruments like declarations.
Law making by international organization is controlled by the
constituent documents of international organizations. They will
decide on legal acts and decision-making procedures. There are
three theories of law making in international organizations: the
treaty analogy, the theory of delegation and the theory of

Regulations law-making, binding, directly applicable, all

the member state must implement it, it is superior to
domestic law of member states
Directives binding as far as the result is concerned;
member states are free to choose how they want to achieve
this result; directives come with deadlines
Decisions administrative acts, they are binding but they
dont create abstract and generally applicable rules of
IOs may also adopt conventions.
6. Financing and budgets of IOs.
8. International non-governmental organizations.